NAME: ______________________________________________ PERIOD: ____ READ THIS FIRST -- INTRODUCTION to The Odyssey and this assignment:
The Odyssey is the nearly 3,000-year-old epic poem that tells the story of the Greek hero Odysseus as he endures a ten-year journey home to his wife, Penelope, and his son, Telemachus. A blind storyteller named Homer is credited as the author, but scholars debate whether Homer ever existed, or if the story evolved as different people told it.
PART ONE: Read The Odyssey at the Movies and on Television 1. The Wizard of Oz
A. List three plot similarities shared by The Odyssey and The Wizard of Oz:
B. Odysseus, trying to get home, is like __________________________ in this movie.
C. The helpful goddess Athena is like ____________________________ in this movie.
2. Finding Nemo
A. Odysseus is the father, like _____________________________ in this movie.
B. Telemachus is Odysseus’ son, like _____________________ in the movie. (Note: Telemachus does not run away. But in each story, the father must go on a long journey to be reunited with his son.)
C. List three themes from Finding Nemo (which are shared by The Odyssey):
3. O Brother, Where Art Thou?
A. The Roman name for Odysseus is Ulysses. In this movie, the character who resembles Odysseus is named ____________________________________________.
B. The main character in this movie also is on a journey, in part to find his wife, who is named ________________________________ -- just like Odysseus’ wife.
C. Odysseus’ wife is being harassed by suitors, a group of young men who believe Odysseus has died on the way home and who want Penelope to forget about him and marry one of them. In this movie, there is only one suitor, and his name is
D. The one-eyed Cyclops monster is represented in this movie by a one-eyed _____________________________________.
E. In The Odyssey, Menelaus is the king of Sparta. In O Brother, Menelaus is a _______________________________.
4. Apollo 13
A. The true story of the Apollo 13 space mission, which was later made into a Tom Hanks movie, is often called a real-life Odyssey. Explain why: _____________________
B. In an uncanny coincidence, before the rocket had even been launched, the command module portion of the rocket had been named ________________________.
5. Star Trek
A. In one of the 10,000 or so Star Trek movies and TV shows in existence, there is a starship named ______________________________.
B. That starship name comes not only from Homer’s ancient Greek epic, but also from the Arthur Clarke film _________________________________ -- which itself had been named in part after Homer’s story.
PART TWO: Read The Odyssey Rocks 1. Cream: psychedelic rock with Eric Clapton on guitar
The Roman name for the Greek hero Odysseus is Ulysses; the ‘60s supergroup Cream used that Roman name in their slightly psychedelic song “Tales of Brave Ulysses.” The song makes reference to Odysseus’ risky decision to listen to songs of the creatures known as the Sirens rather than plug his ears with wax. Based on Cream’s lyrics, how can we say that the Sirens are like Britney Spears? _____________________________________________________.
2. Steely Dan: slightly nerdy ‘70s jazz-rock
In “Home at Last,” the group Steely Dan compares a person’s quest for happiness to Odysseus’ long journey home. It also makes reference to the episode with the Sirens. Based on the second stanza, how did Odysseus secure himself on his boat to make sure he could not hurt himself while he heard the Sirens? ___________________________________.
Steely Dan’s song also makes indirect references to Calypso, a nymph who treats Odysseus well, but still holds him captive on her island before finally being ordered to release him. For centuries Calypso was viewed solely as yet another antagonist who kept Odysseus from his home. But some modern readers take a different view of Calypso, including the singer-songwriter Suzanne Vega. Describe how Vega’s portrayal of Calypso is more sympathetic: _______________________________________________
PART THREE: The Odyssey in Literature
A. The novel and the later film use The Odyssey as an inspiration. But Cold Mountain occurs during which period of U.S. history? ___________________________.
B. Odysseus is trying to return to the Greek island of Ithaca, where he is king. The soldier in Cold Mountain is journeying toward ______________________________________.
C. While Odysseus wanted to see his wife, Penelope, the soldier’s love interest is named ______________. The danger she faces is similar to the one faced by Penelope in The Odyssey. Describe it: ______________________________________________.
2. The Return of Odysseus: A book that lists all the books inspired by The Odyssey
A. List three of the writers and artists inspired by The Odyssey:
B. The Iliad, also credited to Homer, is about _________.
C. The Odyssey, meanwhile, is the ancestor of all Western _______________________,
D. The author notes that modern readers argue over the Cyclops named Polyphemus, with some calling him _________________________________ while others still call him ____________________________. (Note: We will see whether there are other ways to consider Polyphemus.)
3. Ulysses by James Joyce
A. Explain the worldwide June 16 celebration known as Bloomsday: ________________
B. Ulysses is James Joyce’s attempt to write a modern version of __________________.
C. Joyce’s Ulysses, while incredibly difficult to read, is often praised as being ________
4. No-Man’s Lands: A travel book named after one of Odysseus’ trick names
A. What inspired Scott Huler to read The Odyssey and try to re-create its journey? _____
B. List some of the lessons from The Odyssey that resonated for Huler:
C. Huler learns to appreciate one of Homer’s key ideas, which is _________________